For the Connecticut College Class of 2022, the next four years will provide new doorways into a world of imagination, community and knowledge.
That was the message Professor of Human Development Sunil Bhatia imparted on new students as he delivered the keynote address Monday at the College’s 104th Convocation ceremony.
“Engaging with this form of education can give you knowledge needed for writing poetry; fighting for social justice; carving out your belonging; countering fake news; studying abroad; learning a new language; becoming a teacher, psychologist, scientist, sociologist, engineer, historian, artist, dancer, or a philosopher,” Bhatia said.
As students, faculty and staff gathered on the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Green to formally usher in the new academic year, Bhatia’s address, “Finding Magical Doors: Notes on Borders, Race, and Belonging,” encouraged members of the College community to treat people of different backgrounds with empathy, and to always search for our common humanity.
Bhatia spoke passionately about his personal experiences as an Indian immigrant and the hardships refugees face around the world, emphasizing the value a liberal arts education offers and the opportunities it affords.
“Looking back, I can tell you that I am standing up here and sharing my story with you because I had access to a liberal arts education,” Bhatia said. “Yes, that education gave me a livelihood, but what is even more remarkable is that it gave me meaning and purpose in life. Every major milestone in my career was achieved because I had support from colleagues, family and community.”
Bhatia concluded his speech by assuring students that they were at home now and would enjoy the support of their new classmates and professors.
“Your journey here is not a solo expedition. Rather, you will be building community with these diverse members and you will collectively work toward transforming this institution,” he said.
Earlier in the ceremony, President Katherine Bergeron officially opened the 104th academic year at Connecticut College, welcoming to the community the eight new faculty, 24 new staff, 29 new transfer students, and the 513 exuberant new students of the class of 2022. She then went on in her remarks to discuss Mohsin Hamid’s futuristic fable Exit West—the book all new students were asked to read over the summer—and the powerful promise the novel holds out of imagining previously unimaginable worlds.
During Convocation, members of the College community recited the nearly 100-year-old Honor Code Matriculation Pledge, a pledge to uphold academic excellence and high community standards in every aspect of their lives. Representatives from the College’s administration, faculty, staff and student groups then signed the Shared Governance Covenant, a formal commitment to strive towards fully realizing the core value of shared governance.
The Constitution Brass Quintet provided a musical prelude and recessional, and the Manchester Pipe Band led the processional. Convocation concluded with the singing of the Alma Mater and Victory Song and was followed by a community picnic on Chapel Green.
See more photos of Convocation 2018.